Facing COVID-19 seems to be the common challenge that each country in the world is facing. While all countries are much concerned with containing the virus, many challenges seem to appear ahead.
The unusual event have put the whole world in front of a serious domino effect crisis. The moment the virus is contained, governments should deal with new realities, as well as social, economic and security problems. When it comes to social problems, the level of shock that invaded human minds due to the rapid collapse of all aspects of life and the imposing of new rules and conditions will not be easy to deal with, especially that most countries had to ally harsh measures of lock down which will definitely have its impacts on the psychological status of people. Living with hardships is not an easy issue for many people who never experience real crisis or risks, the whole world seemed to be open and worries were never related to basic issues, such as basic food supplies, especially when there is a clear malfunction of the general food supply itself.
The aftershocks of such a global earthquake would hit economies heavily, and while the state’s role seems to be more evident, the private sector will face huge pressures and difficulties, especially small and medium businesses. The role of the state is important in the coming months to guarantee that these challenges do not turn into risks.
Thinking locally might be the global slogan of the coming period, therefore, it is important to develop plans where the state leads a national process based on realities economy, food security, national production and advanced agricultural systems.
In November 2017, I wrote an article entitled “The new concept of national security,” in which I stressed on the need for revising the concept of national security, providing effective and efficient tools to develop a more resilient society, with special focus on micro-economic development and economic power.
The article highlighted that this kind of thinking is particularly needed in a country like Jordan. Socio-economic and local development, food security plans, unemployment, education reform, agriculture, transportation and energy plans, security and progressive anti-terrorism strategies are just some of the serious challenges that need a new approach, with much focus on building an independent and productive economy done according a clear roadmap that is followed.
This was explained also in an article published in The Jordan Times also in February 2018, entitled “Concrete steps for economic development.” The article emphasised the need for Jordan to do a real change with a vision for economic development in order to develop policies that make an immediate impact on peoples’ lives. Strategies around agricultural cooperatives could be extremely powerful in reducing hunger and poverty levels. It does not need to be complex and could be modelled off the family farms, as these farms are easy to supervise and do not require large bureaucracies to administer. In the article, I suggested developing the supply chain between the cities and the regions in order to breathe new life into agriculture and food processing.
It is very important to think of these concepts today to face the coming expected imbalance in international trade and export process. The priority for any coming short-term strategy should be reaching self-sufficiency, enhancing rural prosperity, opening up markets for other essential industries and creating a more balanced economy that creates new jobs across sectors. The creation and support of local industry will also need Jordan to open foreign markets, especially with neighbouring countries, such as Syria and Iraq.
This self-sufficiency plan should urge Jordan as well to think of the importance of re-engaging with bordering countries like Syria, as this difficult phase might push countries that share borders to develop bilateral cooperation to satisfy their needs. For Jordan, many products like meat, fruits and food can be imported so easily from Syria. At the same time, Jordan can help Syrians in exporting essential products, petrochemicals, medications and sanitisers, and even help Syria face the threat of COVID-19.
This global crisis is pushing countries to adopt more pragmatic approach, with stronger role of the state, realistic economy and new style of bilateral relations.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh